79 of 85 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
You get the feeling that Krista Tippett was overwhelmed by what she was trying to accomplish. One gets the sense that she is 1) Trying to pull together all ideas that she has discussed in the years that she has had the privilege of talking spirituality with some of the most lucid, intelligent, and articulate people in religion and 2) Do some cathartic spiritual mind cleansing and 3) Try to weave the two threads together.
The enormity of her enterprise is evidenced by the confusion in the structure of the book and the poorly executed organization. This is true of course, only if you are reading the book as a book. I didn't really understand the key until I was well into the book. The key is that one need to read the book as an extended conversation, or better yet, as an extended essay and rumination on theology, and peripherally, the impact that theology has had on her life.
The theological discussion was extremely successful. It opened up deep wounds and it presented wonderful ideas and complex viewpoints clearly and succinctly, much like the radio show. The only drawback with this aspect of the book is that the book is not a comprehensive book, so she was not able to delve into the intricacies of the thoughts as much as she did with the radio program. So a basic understanding of the people of whom she speaks of is almost a necessity.
Yet it was also substantial reading. It calls for all of your attention. The breadth of the book, the coverage of the religious landscape, the depth of the potential side trips, are all so very tempting and intellectually stimulating. I found myself thinking about the discourse and I also found myself laying the book down to take notes and to sit and think aloud, trying to digest all the implication brought up. It is certainly not light reading, but it is reading that is good for the soul. She said herself that she felt like she was running out of words, and you can sense the urgency in her writing towards the end. You can hear her thinking: so much to say, so few pages.
The interjection of her own personal struggles with religion and her own burgeoning spiritual journey was less successfully treated. It wasn't that the interjections were unwelcome. It is because Krista picked and chose through her personal history to make certain points. I won't begrudge her right to do that, it takes an immense amount of courage to do something like this, but her choice of using limited exposure of her personal journey caused some awkwardness in reading that made me wonder if it was wise to even bring the subject up.
It is a Faustian bargain I think; not delving into the personal would have made for a less personal and perhaps less interesting narrative; but not delving into the personal would have also smoothed out a lot of the awkward transitions with her ruminations. Someone who did a much better job of laying her spiritual and emotional life out for all to see is Elizabeth Gilbert in "Eat, Pray, Love", but I doubt anyone would have that kind of courage to reveal as much of herself as she did. In the end, I think the exposure of her own personal journey was symmetric with what she had to say about her belief in a personal kind of theological discussion, one that incorporates the personal account of the spiritual which makes the discussion all the more acceptable and creates better understanding of each other's faith. That point was made, but not well.
In summary, this is not a quick summer read by the pool. You need to pay attention, and despite some rough edges and minor imperfections, you will be rewarded with a fascinating and broad rumination about the search for purpose and meaning.
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2007
Speaking of Faith was my first introduction to Krista Tippett. I have since gone to the website from her American Public Media radio program and you are able to listen to all of her programs and the site is very well organized. If you enjoyed this book, I'd highly recommend the website if you have not yet visited it.
It is so refreshing to have a voice for faith like Tippett's. On page 140 of her book she writes, "We have had few models in our public life for religious speech that does not proselytize, exclude, anger or offend." Exactly. It is time to welcome people back to a Christianity that is hopeful, loving, forgiving, understanding, peaceful, and compassionate.
I love that Tippett invites us to have questions about our faith. Through these questions, I personally have had many spiritual experiences with the presence of God. It also occurs to me that when there is too much "religion" and not enough "spirituality" people lose their connection with God. My husband has no interest in faith anymore and when asked why he says he remembers a childhood of repeating things that soon lost their meaning. I asked him if he ever thought about what he was saying and he said "no." Perhaps someday he will go back to think because there is so much to ponder. I loved Tippett's discussion on the difference between religion and spirituality, here is a quote from her book: " A rabbi, Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, gave me the best illustration I know of the difference between spirituality and religion. On Mount Sinai, she says, something extraordinary happened to Moses. He had a direct encounter with God. This was a spiritual experience. The Ten Commandments were the container for that experience. They are religion." I believe that we need a good balance of both religion and spirituality to be fulfilled.
Tippett is a great voice for a discussion on faith because she is incredibly knowledgeable, open minded, considerate, curious and respectful. I only knocked a star from the review as this book is pretty heavy in intellect and will lose some potential readers to that. I need to reread this book at least one or two more times to fully grasp everything she is talking about.
I will end with my favorite quote from the book: "I sense that seeing the world the way God sees the world means, in part, grieving in places the world does not forgive, and rejoicing in places the world does not notice. It would mean, therefor, to live with a patience that culture cannot sustain, and with a hope the world cannot imagine." (pg. 177)
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2007
Krista Tippett in Speaking of Faith, the public radio program she created and hosts on a weekly basis, has lifted the ban on public discourse of meaning, ethics, and values. She dares to draw the lines connecting politics and religion - connecting people.
"The human condition is the reality around which political life revolves - and upon which it falters.... This fact is made more complex, not more transparent, in our era where religious passions and identities overtly fuel political conflict," she observes, in the book that echoes the program's name and theme.
Tippett's interview strategy is simple: to invite her guests, men and women of spiritual depth, practical achievement, and passionate conviction to speak in the first person, letting their own stories guide and illuminate the conversation. Her approach, however, is far from simple, combining the incisiveness and nuance of a fine mind, broadly and deeply informed, and a heart overflowing with compassion for the world in its urgent complexity.
Speaking of Faith is densely populated with Tippett's conversation partners: these "others" speak. However, in the book, her own voice surfaces as well, welcoming us to ponder her religious upbringing, her early careers in diplomacy and journalism, and the sometimes thorny path that eventually led her to a mature spirituality that persists in asking the hardest questions.
In a way, Krista Tippett asks those questions on behalf of us all: How do faith and science, religion and politics intersect? Where is God when people suffer? Why do we cause others to suffer in the name of our gods? What is virtue, where is it found, how can we cultivate it? How can we speak unreservedly of the ideals we hold most dear in ways that honor and respect difference?
Tippett's writing, like her speech, flows winsomely; she is erudite without pretension or false humility, informed by her passion for clear understanding. The word that emerges most clearly in the end, perhaps, is hope: hope for justice, hope for peace, hope that the human race can survive its own failings, hope that all things will be well.
If nothing else in our current culture of fear and uncertainty cheers us, Speaking of Faith should do so. This is a book to read and keep.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2007
Not everyone will like this book.
If you are an avid listener to Speaking of Faith and find your own faith questions and journey enriched by what you hear each week, you are in for a special treat. After reading Krista's book, I understand why she can interview people with such insight: she is exceptionally well-read across religion, philosophy, politics, culture and history. Reading Krista's book is like enjoying an extended conversation with her over a wonderful dinner where she brings all of what she has learned about over a lifetime into focus with her personal journey. I loved this book and didn't want the conversation to end!
Never heard of Krista? If you are on a faith journey of any tradition and welcome the opportunity to explore your faith ideal within our complex world of politics, history, science and modern culture, then you will love this book. And, when you finish, you will want to go to her website and download all those podcasts she so freely shares and savor each new show.
But, if you are a person who answers the timeless questions about God with snippets of your favorite English Bible translation taken out of any meaningful context, then save your money. You will not like Krista's book any more than if it was written in a foreign language. I say that with all due respect to an earlier reviewer. We all are free to live the theological tradition that brings us into relationship with God. God created us all so differently; and, in infinite wisdom, provided a variety of traditions so that anyone earnestly seeking will find Him. While this book is not for you, remember that it can deeply enrich another person's faith journey.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2007
Krista Tippett approaches the complex issues of faith with an intelligent openness that invites depth and understanding where intolerance and fear often reside. Her reflections present a finely tuned theological perspective that is both urgent and compassionate. Readers of all traditions will find this book especially helpful in a time when religious cross-currents need connection most. Krista's examination of the spiritual life, both her own and others', is done at the personal level where all experiences of the sacred are honored.
29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2007
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Krista Tippett's book, like her radio program for American Public Media, reveals her own passionate involvement with the relationship of theology, both personal and institutional, to the complex world in which we live. The intertwining of her story with the narrative of our times, especially in the last 25 years, brings the concurrent story of the reader into the mix. It is compelling, challenging, and enlivening.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2008
I read Speaking of Faith without having been familiar with Krista Tippett or her radio program. From that perspective, I found it to be a very interesting exploration of the nature and role of faith and religion in today's society. It seemed to provide a relatively balanced perspective on the issue of dealing with faith on the individual level. Most of all, I could identify with the author's perspective of being a rational, intellectual person who, at various points in her life, struggled to reconcile faith and reason. In short, I found the CONTENT of the book to be interesting and insightful.
However, I did not find the book to be easy to read. The last four chapters (which contain most of the "philosophical" content) are loosely organized in a manner explained in chapter two. Unfortunately, I found that they all felt basically the same and I had a hard time remembering what one had said over another. In addition, the overall writing style is similarly loose, like a stream of consciousness, which makes it very difficult to keep up with the thesis of any given portion of narrative.
Overall, I think it is worth reading the book, if only to open your mind to some possible new interpretations and perspectives on faith. But be prepared to make some margin notes or something, otherwise it may all start to turn into a jumble of noble postulations that don't all stick.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2007
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This straight-forward and easy to read book provides an interesting and needed perspective on faith issues that are relevant to all people regardless of religious affiliation. Tippett, displaying her years of experience in dialogue with other spiritual and scientific groups, as well as her own rigorous theological training, possesses the type of spiritual maturity that is utterly lacking in most mainstream discourse of religion and spirituality which focuses more on spectacle than reflective substance and knowledgeable understanding. I applaud her work surrounding interfaith and ecumenical reconciliation which illustrates that all faiths share the same basic moral underpinnings, and that because religion is a human construction, all are incomplete yet contain ageless truths concomitantly.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2007
Disclaimer: I work at Minnesota Public Radio where Tippett's program, Speaking of Faith is produced. That said, I have listened, as a public radio listener, to all of the programs. It is with that background that I devoured this book. What I enjoyed is the personal journey that Krista shares as she illuminates the conversations that have a been a part of the program the past few years. There is a vast open-mindedness expressed in this writing coupled with an exquisite expression of intellectual awe. Her prose is like poetry and takes the reader into the minds and hearts of some of todays leading theologians and spiritual practitioners. This is a delightful companion to the program, Speaking of Faith.
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2007
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Anyone having listened to "Speaking of Faith" on NPR is interested in getting Krista's intellectual number, and failing that, her bibliography. This book fills that need quite eloquently, bringing relevance to the study of sacred texts via rigorous discourse germaine to the trials and tribulations of this world in which we find ourselves.